Religion professor wins award for incorporating women’s studies to classes

The university's women’s studies program aims to teach students about women's impact and contributions to society, and one professor has recently won an award for doing just that.

Elizabeth Flowers, assistant professor of religion and member of the women’s studies program, was presented with the Wise Woman Award on April 27 for the incorporation of women’s studies in her teaching, according to the awards program.

Flowers teaches a number of classes, including American Religious History, Women in Religion and World Religious Traditions with emphasis on women's studies. 

Flowers said she teaches her students to recognize the role of gender in behavior and performance.

“Women form the majority in most religious communities and congregations in the U.S.,” said Flowers. “The paradox is that women have lacked institutional authority, though not necessarily power.”

Flowers said that paradox motivates her to focus on women’s studies. Because she grew up with many sisters and attended an all-girl school, Flowers said she was surrounded with strong female role models, whether it was her mother, school teachers or religious figures.

These strong female influences were part of the reason Flowers was drawn into women's studies  But Flowers said there was another compelling reason; women now form the majority of undergraduates but are still underrepresented in business, politics, and science.

Karen Steele, a professor in the English Department and a member of the university's women's studies program, said gender issues impact men and women alike and both groups should be informed.

“Men and women need to study this just like Caucasians need to study about African-American history,” Steele said. “If you don’t have that subject position, it doesn’t excuse you from the knowledge or training.”

Babette Bohn, professor of art history and member of the women’s studies program, said the program is important because it changes perspectives.

For instance, Bohn said, the program also focuses on changing perspectives regarding language, and she cited the use of the phrase “chairman of a committee," which could be interpreted as an implicit expectation that the head of a committee will be male.

The next event hosted by the program will be a screening of the film Miss Representation. It will take place on Sept. 18 at 6 p.m. in Sid Richardson Lecture Hall 3.

To get more info on upcoming events by the Women’s Studies Program, visit their website.